Sex. Glitter. Secrets. Love. Confetti. Alcohol. Murder. Sounds fun, right? Actor Augustus Prew (The Morning Show) definitely thinks so when it comes to his role in Hulu and Blumhouse’s January episode of Into The Dark, Midnight Kiss. Prew as well as director Carter Smith (The Ruins), writer Erlingur Thoroddsen (Rift), and the rest of the fabulous cast including Scott Evans (Grace And Frankie), Ayden Mayeri (Veep), Lukas Gage (Euphoria), Adam Faison (Daphne & Velma), and guest star Chester Lockhart (Glamorous), have helped to modernize slasher tropes in this bloody New Years addition.
Happy to bring queer horror to a new, mainstream level and give it the edge audiences crave, Prew shared his thoughts on Midnight Kiss as well as why it’s not only an important installation into the holiday horror anthology, but to the genre as a whole.
Jessica Rose For Nightmare On Film Street: I’m so thrilled to be talking with you. I’ve been covering all of Into the Dark since their first episode, and this was one of my favorites.
Augustus Prew: Yes! I’m glad to hear you say that. I’m very proud of the movie. I think that we did a very special little movie. I think it’s very, very special.
NOFS: Can you tell me how you got involved in Midnight Kiss and why you think it’s such a special movie?
AP: I had never done a slasher and if you’re going to do a slasher, you do a slasher with Blumhouse. They are the kings of this line, so I was very excited to do that. It’s a [quick] slasher. It’s a slasher with a queer narrative, which is, you know, very rare. To my mind, I can only think of one other movie that is similar and that’s a movie that my husband made called You’re Killing Me. That was out about three or four years ago now, but there’s never been a queer slasher from a mainstream studio. I thought that was a really exciting thing to be a part of and I love the script. I thought it was really fun.
It’s a script with heart and soul. It’s about this lovely group of friends that I would want to be a part of, it’s very real and doesn’t shy away from the complexities of what that means.
NOFS: I like that. I wanted to be part of the group as well.
AP: They’re fun. They’re a fun bunch. They have their issues, but don’t all families?
“…there’s never been a queer slasher from a mainstream studio […] it’s very real and doesn’t shy away from the complexities of what that means.”
NOFS: Definitely. What drew you to the part of Cameron? I can see why you would be drawn to his part because he’s a great character. Could you maybe speak to how you’re similar to him and how you’re different from him?
AP: I’ve never been on Grinder before. As research for this movie, I went on Grinder. I’m not an internet person, so in that sense, we’re very different. Cameron is a kind of complex character. His relationship to being gay, there’s an interesting sort of dynamic there. I don’t think he’s quite as comfortable as he would like people to think he is, and I thought that was interesting. I like the relationship with Hannah. My best friend is also called Hannah. The relationship that Ayden Mayeri and I have is very similar to the relationship I have with my best girlfriend.
I saw a lot of myself in him, really. My dad was a photographer as well so it was a nice sort of overlapping. I liked how it gets stuck into the complexities of the dynamics that really affect that friend group. Queer kinds of friendships can be complicated at times. There are you know, people have a lot of trauma that they are still trying to deal with about being gay and from growing up in a sort of straight world and having to hide a part of themselves. I think a lot of queer people do feel like they have to be better than everyone else. They’re sort of told that they have to be perfect. I think that kind of dynamic, where you never feel like you’re really enough and you’re always kind of chasing something else with something better or trying to make the best of yourself or fear that someone’s going to discover this deep, dark secret that you’ve had since you were a kid, it’s just that a very interesting dynamic that really only plays out in queer relationships. We haven’t really seen it on the screen before and we definitely haven’t seen it on the screen in a slasher format.
I thought that was just a really smart way to re-energize that formula and Carter Smith is great. The Ruins is a brilliant movie. If you’ve seen it, it’s wonderful. He’s so collaborative and so fun. Scott Evans and I did a movie last year together, so we were already friends and Ayden and I have lots of mutual friends, so we already kind of knew each other as well. Lucas Gage and I already knew each other, we were all friends hanging out. It’s really a lovely group of people with great chemistry and we’re just down to play and elevate the formula. It just gave it a little bit more depth. It’s a friendship group, but one that I wanted to be a part of.
They were fun, they were real. They can take the piss out of each other and it really helps that we all have that chemistry to begin with. It really comes across on the screen. That was my take on the process of making Midnight Kiss. It was a lovely thing to be a part of, exhausting though, because, as I’m sure you know, they shoot Into The Dark episodes in three weeks. Each episode is only three weeks and it’s fast. That’s really crazy. That’s sort of fun working in that way, you just don’t have time to think. You just have to go with it and that’s that’s always exciting for an actor.
“I feel like it’s a smash and you really need that. It needs to be self-aware. It needs to have an element of whimsy in it.”
NOFS: It is amazing that they do that. I recently learned how quick the actual shoots and I couldn’t get over my hunger. I figured they had to be because they’re their monthly, but I always thought they were done way in advance.
AP: No, no, no. They don’t stop prepping. They prep the movie in the spread of three days and then they shoot the movie for three weeks. Then the other half of the week, they finish off post-production. It’s really done in a month and it’s wrapped up. It’s sort of like how classic B movies were made, it kind of riffed on that for me. They’re just kind of going with it and just doing it and having fun while they do it. I think that the tone of the movie, it’s intensely gripped by what’s going to happen to these characters, but also, it’s fun. It’s funny. We watched it the other day with a cinema full of people and it’s hilarious. It’s a very funny movie.
I feel like it’s a smash and you really need that. It needs to be self-aware. It needs to have an element of whimsy in it. It’s like the great slasher movie, Scream, where it wants to comment on itself. I thought Midnight Kiss did that in a really weird, fun way. As an actor, it’s fun to find that tone and find the line, because there’s often a fine line between it being too silly and taking it too seriously. You have to plot that course quite well. Carter and our editor did a great job at mining that out of the personas
NOFS: I thought everyone’s performances were like over-the-top fantastic. It was really great, especially in the third act. The emotion that’s present for something filmed in three weeks just adds quality to the stories and quality in sight as well. Was it a difficult part of your performance? Having a get in touch with the emotion? Even the level of nudity is pretty daring for Into The Dark so far. Was that difficult for you?
AP: We didn’t shy away. No, not at all. I liked how we were doing it like this is a real group of people. It’s very it’s raw and it’s visceral at times. These people are rude to one another and then they’re sexy. They have strong feelings and they’re quite dramatic. Nudity doesn’t bother me. I’ve been naked on camera loads of time. I think if it fits the story and it furthers the story, you kind of want that level. There’s an element of camp and it’s sort of riffing on a Rodriguez B-movie.
You need a bit of tits and teeth in it. That’s part of the joke, that’s part of the wink, wink of it all. Again, it’s refreshing for me as a gay person for it to not just be sort of bikini-clad women everywhere. This is a movie for both men and women, which is shockingly rare to see in film. So for that, I applaud Blumhouse’s moxie and Hulu’s for the matter for pushing this forward onto such a mainstream platform. This is a mainstream slasher movie for everyone. This is not just for gay people. It happens to be a story with queer characters, but other than that, this story is universal. There’s something in this for everyone and I think everybody will see a little bit of themselves in these characters. I’m proud to be a part of that, really, and it was just a shitload of fun making it as well.
“This is a mainstream slasher movie for everyone. This is not just for gay people. It happens to be a story with queer characters, but other than that, this story is universal.”
NOFS: What message are you hoping viewers take from Midnight Kiss?
AP: Well, I guess it’s about being honest. It’s about being honest with yourself and with others. I want it to be fun. It’s a fun movie. I want them to enjoy the pleasure of seeing a queer narrative in our own mainstream TV and to be excited by these stories and these characters and to laugh with us all together and just to have a fun time because it’s a fun story… I guess.
NOFS: We’re allowed to say that stories like Midnight Kiss are fun to see. We’re allowed to refer to a blood and mayhem in a positive way of liking when it comes to movies like this and the genre.
AP: Exactly. That’s the pleasure of it. It’s a guilty pleasure.
Midnight Kiss is currently streaming on Hulu. Start your new year off right and watch it now!
Are you watching the second season of Hulu and Blumhouse’s Into The Dark anthology series? What do you think of Augustus Prew’s character, Cameron, in Midnight Kiss? Let us know your thoughts over on Twitter, Reddit, or in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!